I really enjoyed the last Carnival of Genealogy! I had fun researching and posting info about my Spangler surname and wondered why I hadn’t done it already! So, today I would like to take a shot at talking about my maternal surname, Forbes!
The origin of the surname Forbes is one of debate. I will share with you what my uncle says my grandfather shared with him. My grandfather, George Charles Forbes, told him that the Forbes surname originated from a story about a man who went to the river to see his love, Bess and while there a bear tried to attack her. The man killed the bear and therefore called it “For Bess”. I know that sounds strange and you can imagine how I felt when being told this story. I thought it was indeed a very far-flung story. However, searching on the web I found similar stories to what I was told.
…this name was first assumed by one Ochonchar, from Ireland, who having slain a ferocious bear in that district, too the name of Forbear, now spelled and pronounced Forbes, in two syllables;…
…In consequence of this feat the Forbeses carry in their arms three bears’ heads. A variation of this story says that the actor in this daring exploit was desirous of exhibiting his courage to the young and beautiful heiress of the adjacent castle, whose name being Bess, he, on receiving her hand as his reward, assumed it to commemorate his having killed the bear for “Bess”.
The Clan Forbes is Scottish but may have it’s origins in Ireland.
“On the whole”, says Smibert, “the traditions of the family, as well as other authorities, countenance with unusual strength, the belief, that the heads of the Forbeses belonged really to the Irish branch, and were among those strangers of that race whom the Lowland kings planted in the north and north-east of Scotland to overawe the remaining primary population of Gaelic Picts”.
There is a lot of history about the Clan Forbes, much too much to publish in one blog. If you are interested in finding out more about the Clan Forbes, visit this page.
I could make a long list of famous Forbes, such as I did with Spanglers but I will make a list of occupations of my known ancestors who are Forbes. This is the line I have done the most research on and will be able to post more about. I will also include those who I have heard, but not yet proven, were involved in certain things.
First off will be my 5th-great-grandfather, John Forbes. You will know him from my previous post about him. Having been a part of the Revolution, he figures prominently in my eventually being able to join the SAR.
My 2nd-great-grandfather, George Washington Forbes, was a dairy farmer and an eye-doctor in Omro, Wisconsin. It is said that he had a very nice home where he would let his patients stay while they recovered after any eye operations!
George’s brother, Herrick is one of my favorite ancestors. He served in the Civil War, initailly being forced to serve as a Confederate soldier while teaching in Louisiana. He escaped during a battle and then turned around and joined the Wisconsin Infantry and fought for the Union side. I will probably save his story for a later blog as he was a pretty interesting find!
Another in my Forbes line, although not direct, was a Supreme Court judge for the State of New York! Gerrit Angelo Forbes is my first-cousin, 4 times removed. I was very surprised to find a Supreme Court Judge in our line!
As of yet, I have found no direct ties to anyone associated with Forbes Magazine, John Forbes Kerry or any other famous Forbes’!
This is actually very fun and gives me many ideas for more surnames to cover. In the coming days I will probably write a blog about two other surnames, maternal grandmother’s surname was Stevenson and my paternal grandmother’s surname is Gamble! Look for that soon!